Sri Lanka’s Institute of Chemistry enters collaboration with Cincinnati University

Thursday, 24 February 2011 00:52 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Scholarships for USA enables programme for students to obtain top-class chemistry degrees at the globally-recognised University of Cincinnati

By Cassandra Mascarenhas

When considering one’s ambitions in life, common options that tend to arise especially amongst Sri Lankan families include doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants and so on – a career as a chemist never tends to cross anyone’s mind.

However chemistry, which has had a surprisingly long history in Sri Lanka as well, has proved to be a promising field to be employed in; statistics have shown that no chemist is unemployed and earn top salaries globally.


Identifying the potential in this vital field and the job opportunities it could provide budding chemists in Sri Lanka, Scholarships for USA has enabled a programme where students can enrol at the Institute of Chemistry, Sri Lanka and after earning credits for two years at a very affordable cost at the Institute, students can then transfer to the renowned University of Cincinnati with a scholarship for their final years, to earn a degree in Chemistry at a university which is ranked amongst the top 200 universities globally.

Scholarships for USA is responsible for attracting the University of Cincinnati to Sri Lanka in 2007 and since then have got the university involved in two collaborations; first with the Institute of Chemistry followed by SLIIT.

Its mission is to attract more US schools leading to establishing off shore campuses so that thousands of rural youth may have access to top level US education in Sri Lanka, making them globally employable.

Professor Anna, an Icelandic Chemistry professor with the University of Cincinnati visited Sri Lanka on a mission to recruit more students through Scholarships for USA. She attended meetings with Secretary of Higher Education, the US Embassy and the staff of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Colombo and addressed gatherings at several leading international schools in Colombo on her brief visit to the country.

“If you have a degree in Chemistry you will have an easy time especially in the US when finding a  job as many different industries require chemists to help them out nowadays, for example, pharmaceuticals, plastics etc. The new green movement which has been taken up globally has proved to be very advantageous to chemists as well as their work includes working towards making things more environmentally friendly,” explained Professor Anna.

She went on to say that with economies booming globally and the growth of independent industries, a degree from the US will be especially useful as the four year course encompasses a lot of independent critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills as well as the theory and practical aspects of the subject which will come in handy when working with large international firms.

There are currently two graduate students in the Chemistry Department at the University of Cincinnati and Professor Anna expressed her enthusiasm at seeing more students from Sri Lanka on the US campus in the near future.

The Honorary Dean of the College of Chemical Sciences, Institute of Chemistry, Sri Lanka and Retired Professor, the Open University of Sri Lanka, Jerence Nansel Oleap Fernando explained how Sri Lanka could benefit with collaborations with foreign universities in terms of higher education.

By enrolling at the Institute of Chemistry and earning credits for two years at a very affordable cost, a student could proceed to globally recognised universities affiliated with the Institute to complete their higher education.

“Our sister body in the UK has a huge membership and has been our strong supporter over the years. Northumbria University, looking at our syllabus confirmed that the first two years of our programme is equal to theirs in applied chemistry and through a transfer programme, Sri Lankan students can now complete their degrees at Northumbria at a third of the actual cost,” said the Professor.

A similar collaboration with the University of Cincinnati followed a year after establishing this and Sri Lankan students are now highly motivated by these new opportunities open to them.

Established in 1971, the Institute of Chemistry launched their 37th programme just a couple of months back. The courses held at their premises in Rajagiriya are relatively low-key and flexible with 65 to 70 students generally taken in per batch.

The graduate status offered at the Institute is equivalent to a degree for all purposes both in Sri Lanka and globally. About half of the students who passed out have already received their postgraduate degrees and are in various parts of the world including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand etc.

The four year programme at the Institute of Chemistry currently costs around two and a half lakhs which can be paid in advance or in monthly instalments which roughly amount to a very affordable Rs. 5,000 per month. Transferring to the University of Cincinnati and other foreign universities will see an obvious increase in these rates but through scholarships offered by the university can again be made very affordable.